Experimental evidence of negative interspecific interactions among imago fleas: flea and host identities matter

Irina S. Khokhlova, Elizabeth M. Dlugosz, Boris R. Krasnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated interspecific interactions between two flea species (Parapulex chephrenis and Xenopsylla ramesis) via evaluation of their feeding success (the size of a blood meal and time to death after a single blood meal) when they exploited rodent hosts [Acomys cahirinus (a characteristic host of the former) or Meriones crassus (a characteristic host of the latter)] in single-species or mixed-species groups. We predicted that the negative interactions between the two fleas will result in smaller blood meals and shorter survival time in mixed- versus single-species infestations. We also predicted that the negative effect of mixed-species infestation on feeding performance would be less pronounced when fleas exploited their characteristic host rather than a non-characteristic host. When exploiting a characteristic host, P. chephrenis took larger blood meals in single- than in mixed-species groups, whereas the blood meal size in X. ramesis did not differ between treatments. When exploiting a non-characteristic host, no effect of group composition was found in either flea species. Survival time after a single blood meal was not affected by co-infestation or host species in either flea. Our results suggest context-dependence of the negative effect of co-infestation on feeding performance in fleas with the manifestation of this effect varying in dependence of flea and host species identities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)937-947
Number of pages11
JournalParasitology Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Blood meal size
  • Fleas
  • Interspecific interactions
  • Rodents

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases
  • General Veterinary
  • Parasitology


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